“It is better to teach than to punish”
In our daily life, we see parents with young children saying ‘my child never listens to me, I am really stressed about it. What should I do?’ This question has become more prominent during this period of coronavirus pandemic. Toddlers and pre-schoolers are the ones over whom parents stress the most about. It is very difficult to handle the little ones and their tantrums. This may result in making us annoyed and irritated which may result into spanking, yelling and punishing them with time-outs. The studies have shown that punishments and negative behaviour like yelling benefits only for a short term and not for the long term. Every parent wants their child to be well mannered and disciplined. Therefore, How to deal or manage with the toddlers and pre-schoolers misbehaviour? For this, we have to first understand why children misbehave and then try to manage it.
Why do toddlers and pre-schoolers misbehave?
One thing which we as parents must understand is that children’s brain is not mature enough to deal with or handle the situations. They are at an age where their brain is developing. And in order to understand and explore, children do certain things which we adults find annoying. Their actions speak a lot about what they want.
Reasons behind children’s misbehaviour:
1. To communicate: Children show tantrums to express themselves. You must have noticed that when they are hungry, ill or lonely they will cry a lot or misbehave by throwing toys etc.
2. For manipulation: The word “no” triggers children the most. Little ones mostly at the age of two, cry or show anger when asked not to do something which they eagerly want to do.
3. To have control: Children from the age of two start to question a lot and want independence in what they do. So if you limit their independence then they will show tantrums.
4. For your attention: Every parent must have noticed that when you are busy doing your work for a long time say 1 or 2 hours then your child will poke you and disturb you, or will put out all the toys from the toy box or will start hitting their young sibling. Children like it when they are given attention.
5. They test their limits: Children do things to test their limits. They want to know that if I do this then how my parents will react. Also, to know what they can do and what they cannot do.
6. Television: Nowadays children are technically so advanced that they spend their whole time before screens. You must have noticed that children will behave exactly the way that they have watched in cartoons.
Strategies to deal with toddlers and pre-schoolers misbehaviour:
Well, don’t worry about the children’s tantrums or aggression. Here are a few magical strategies to deal with it and teach your child how to regulate their emotions.
1. You are the live example for them: If you deal with your stress by showing anger or when you and your partner have certain discussions and then it turns into argument and fight. Then the children will also learn the same. When you go outside and instead of saying ‘excuse me,’ you say ‘move’ to ask a person give you side. Then it’s a 100% chance that your child will do the same. So, in order to teach your child good manners make sure to set a good example for them.
2. Make a routine: Set a daily routine for your kid. In the whole day what are the things, they will do. Set such a routine in which your child does not get bored.
3. Give them time: Nowadays, both parents go to work. It happens that you are tired after coming from back but your child in order to spend time with you gets excited when they see you and wants to play. Make sure that you fix an hour or two for your kids and spend time together.
4. Be firm and consistent with your action: When you say “no” to something, make sure, that it does not become “yes” after your kids show their tantrums. Be firm with what you say. This will create a mindset that no means no and your children will take your words seriously. For example, when you say no to watching cartoons at bedtime make sure you don’t give them your mobile phone when they cry or get angry. Also, make sure you don’t allow them to watch the next day too.
5. Be careful with your language: Say positive sentences instead of negative sentences. For example, do not say- “make sure you don’t drop the glass of milk” instead you can say, “please hold the glass of milk properly or it will fall” or instead of saying “stop running around the house,” you can ask them “please walk through the house.”
6. Give them two choices: When you ask them to do something make sure, you put the question in the form of choice. Like, choose between these two outfits which one would you like to wear? Or would you like to study now or after watching this show? This will prevent their misbehaviour and they will feel as if they have control over things.
7. Give them prior information: To avoid misbehaviour give them prior information on things like when you are in a park and your child is enjoying the swings but it is time to go back home. Then tell them that in five minutes you will be leaving the park so till then enjoy whichever swing you want. This will prevent them from breaking down and not willing to go back home.
8. Distract them: You know your child very well. So when you see that the child is on the verge of breaking down just distract them. For example, when you are at a grocery shop and your partner says no to the chocolate which your child wants and you see their break down coming, just distract them by taking them outside or showing something else.
9. Teach them later: Teaching them immediately may not help instead let them calm down and then teach them what to do and what not to do.
10. Coordinate with school teachers: Talk to the nursery school teachers about their behaviour and deal together.
Remain calm and teach them in a positive way. Don’t punish them by spanking or yelling because that will only correct them for that period of time and they will not learn how to behave in a good manner for a longer-term. Teaching them do’s and don’ts will help them to be disciplined and they will be able to regulate their emotions properly and will understand what you are saying and why you are saying. This will ultimately build a connection with your child and make your child wiser, smarter and stronger.